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Entries in Sam Sykes (1)

Sunday
Jan302011

Sykes and Jemisin on the Trope of the "Chosen One"

Here's an excellent blog post out by Sam Sykes, quoting NK Jemisin: "The Chosen Jerk".

Main point: the trope of the Chosen One in much Fantasy and SF is itself corrosive, both because it short-circuits the narrative (by putting all the chips in one character's lap), and because it perpetuates a notion of born superiority.

I've left my own commentary as well in the thread that follows. I think a related problem with the trope is that it requires a Chooser, someone who decides who gets chosen, indeed before any of the relevant actions are taken. It's a kind of predestination to heaven, that suggests others are predestined to less honorable ends.

The problem with this trope is less the determinism it suggests (I have no problem with determinism, so long as it's carefully bounded by the stochastics of quantum mechanics) than with the idea that there's someone out there who knows all our ends and who decides -- who chooses -- naughty and nice, ab initio.

On the other hand, there's less of an issue if the notion of a "Chosen One" is something one lives up to at the end of a life well lived. But then it becomes a kind of literary metaphor rather than a lived reality.